Daily Morning Routine

Something to know about me; I love reading (or watching, thanks YouTube!) about people’s routines. I have always been an avid magazine reader and would just devour the little blurbs about how people tackled their day to day, what products they used, what they ate… everything! When I was figure skating, I had a definite morning routine that began at 6am so I could be on the ice by 7 and at school by 8:45 (full disclosure, I was often late). But when I became injured and then high school and university happened, that healthy morning routine fell by the wayside.

Around late-July last year, I decided to start my days with a little yoga. I had been regularly practicing at home in the afternoons, but felt that my mornings needed something that didn’t involve immediately turning on something (whether that be the tv, my phone or the computer). With that small daily yoga change, began a full morning routine that makes me start my day on a positive, excited and happy note!

Since beginning this daily routine I have noticed many changes in my life. I strongly feel that starting the day with enough time to spend time in silence, be introspective and un-rushed changes the state-of-mind. I believe in routines, I think they are important to bookend your day with a sense of groundedness and stability. Don’t get me wrong, spontaneity is important too, but being able to really rely on certain aspects of the day makes everything a bit easier. I also think its so important to try and live without constantly focusing on screens! I know that’s a little unreasonable since we live in 2015 and we literally have them strapped to our wrists now, but I always try to turn my phone on silent and keep my iPad and tv off and away from me at least until I am making breakfast. So without further ado, here’s my daily morning routine!

I enjoy waking up with at least two hours before I have to go anywhere or do anything. I don’t have children so I know this is a bit easier for me to do interrupted, but those two plus hours really help me spend quality time with myself. First thing, I wake up and give my partner a kiss, throw on some leggings and a comfy shirt and drink some water. I sleep with a 500mL glass jar beside my bed and down it before my eyes have even rid themselves of sleep. Next, I cut a lemon, put on the kettle for some delicious and beneficial lemon water and while that is boiling I practice some yoga.

Relaxing Morning Child's Pose

Relaxing Morning Child’s Pose

 My morning yoga routine varies but tends to be under 15 mins and extremely relaxing with a focus on flexibility. I enjoy taking my time, breathing into tight spaces and letting my body slowly and patiently wake up. I’ll either create my own practice or follow a quick morning YouTube video if I don’t feel like thinking (hey, we all have those days!). Once I have finished practicing, I grab a couple pillows from my couch and create a little meditation seat. I open my Insight Timer App and sit quietly for 5 mins. I practice mindfulness meditation because it’s just what is suiting me at the moment, but I love constantly being reminded to come back to my breath. I’m hoping that I can slowly work up to 20 mins a morning of meditation but I’m not quiet there yet, but a little goes a long way!

Once I’ve finished on my mat and the kettle has boiled, I run into the bathroom and wash my face. This is another new (but important) daily habit! I finally began washing my face religiously in the summer of last year and it has done wonders for my skin! Especially after I move from chemical-laden products to more natural choices.

Morning Skincare Routine (Lush Eau Roma Water, Lush Fresh Farmacy, Rose Petal Witch Hazel, Sukin Moisturizer)

Morning Skincare Routine (Lush Eau Roma Water, Lush Fresh Farmacy, Rose Petal Witch Hazel, Sukin Moisturizer)

I have already posted a Natural Morning Skincare Routine and my routine now hasn’t differed much since then. I first wash my face with Lush’s Fresh Farmacy cleanser (It. Is. Incredible. Especially for extra-sensitive skin), then follow up with some sort of toner (99% of the time I use witch hazel but I ran out so have been going back to Lush’s Eau Roma Water which I also really love, it’s just not as inexpensive and does contain methylparaben which I don’t love) and finally use the best facial moisturizer from Sukin.

By the time I’ve done all this the boiling water from the kettle has cooled a bit, but I’ll still pop some ice cubes into my mug with lemon before pouring in the hot water. If you don’t already drink warm lemon water in the morning you are seriously missing out! It is so beneficial for your health, your skin and general well-being!

Lemon Water

Lemon Water

I like to enjoy my lemon water in one of two special places; out on the balcony (if it’s nice outside and I can sit in the shade) or in my favourite comfy chair that smells like my cottage. I will sip and savour my warm water while reading my morning meditation. I have talked about Journey to the Heart before (and likely will again) but I just enjoy following her daily thoughts and stories because they help me focus on the positive and change any negative thinking. My bookmark is just a cue card that I have listed my favourite meditations of hers that just resonate so completely with me so that I can go back to them as much as possible.

Journey to the Heart

Journey to the Heart

Once I’ve finished reading and contemplating my meditation, I’ll pick up another book or magazine and just sit and read for a while. I enjoy reading about nutrition or yoga in the mornings for inspiration, or if I’m feeling like something light, I’ll choose a magazine or the book I’m currently reading!

Some Favourite Yoga & Nutrition Books

Some Favourite Yoga & Nutrition Books

Now my lemon water is all gone and I’m likely starting to feel hungry so I’ll prepare a smoothie. I drink a smoothie every single morning! If I know that I have the time and want to eat a real breakfast I’ll make a really simple spinach and berry smoothie to drink beforehand, however, if I’m running late or just don’t feel like cooking, I’ll prepare a real smoothie with avocado, peanut butter and lots of fruits to keep me charged through the day. Usually I opt for the quick smoothie (like today)! It’s seriously super simple, throw some spinach and frozen berries into a blender, add water and go!

Simple Morning Smoothie

Simple Morning Smoothie

The reason for the super simple smoothie is to be able to start the day on a healthy note, to be able to have my fruits before eating solid food (proper food combining) and because it just stars me off on a healthy foot. I find myself making healthier choices throughout the day when the first one I make is a good one or if I do go out for dinner or have something special to eat, there is literally no guilt.

So while I’m drinking my smoothie, I’ll go back to my spot and keep reading! Once I finish my smoothie, I allow for half an hour before preparing more food (on days that I want to actually eat breakfast) so that the fruit can digest so that I’m not creating a problem for my digestion (if you would like to know more about food combining, leave a comment below, I’d love to talk about it!)

Light Morning Reading

Light Morning Reading

Now that my smoothie is done and my stomach is really wanting more food, I’ll make breakfast. Here’s also the time that I put on sunscreen if I know that I’ll be leaving the house shortly after breakfast (it takes about 30 minutes for sunscreen to do it’s job and begin protecting you!) Lately my favourite go-to breakfast has been mashed avocado, red pepper flakes and a fried egg on ezekiel toast but today we didn’t have eggs (sad) so I tried something new!

“French” Toast

Behold my delicious “French” Toast breakfast. This recipe is totally kudos to Tara Stiles and her book “Make Your Own Rules Diet”. It is 2 slices of ezekiel bread, 1 banana smashed with 1/2 unsweetened almond milk, “fried” in coconut oil with a little bit of cinnamon and maple syrup on top. This was incredible and tasted just like real French Toast!

I paired my breakfast with some yummy tea (as always) and today’s was just plain ol’ organic green tea!

Green Tea

Green Tea

 Now’s the time that I’ll probably turn something on to watch (I know you’re not supposed to watch tv while eating, but it’s my weakness!) I’ll usually choose YouTube videos or some trashy reality tv show (another weakness, but they make me happy!)

Lastly, after washing the dishes, I’ll put on some happy music and some makeup! I don’t wear a lot day-to-day but if I’m feeling a pick-me-up or have somewhere (other than the yoga studio) to go, I like makeup! I always wear a BB cream, concealer under my eyes, brow gel, mascara and a lip something and will add blush, bronzer, setting powder and eyeliner if I have somewhere special to be! I finish up with a spritz of Saje Namaste Aromatherapy mist as a setting spray and to give me a little aromatherapy jolt.

Now that I’m done eating, reading, yoga-ing and meditating, my morning routine is over and it’s time to start the day!

The View from My Reading Chair (featuring Princess Peach)

The View from My Reading Chair (featuring Princess Peach)

Now that you know my morning routine, I would absolutely love to hear about yours! Is there something that you swear by in the mornings? Also, if you have any recommendations of all natural makeup and sunscreen brands please let me know! Finally, if there is anything that I mentioned that you would like more information about (ie food combining, etc) please let me know! I would love to make a post for you!

Namaste.

(Note: Nothing in this post was sponsored or asked to be mentioned. All thoughts and opinions are my own! Enjoy!)

Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

It’s finally becoming spring here in Toronto, which means naturally we’re craving more and more fresh foods but eating salads day in and day out can get tiring. Enter Summer Rolls! Summer Rolls are delicious way of eating lots of raw veggies and they’re creative because you can always switch up the ingredients that you use based on individual taste and craving! Today I’m sharing with you my personal favourite combination and the best part; the Spicy Peanut Sauce for dipping!

Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

I love including raw red, yellow and orange peppers, carrots, spinach, avocado and seaweed into my Summer Rolls. While vegetables are important to include in your diet regardless if they are cooked or raw, it’s important to have variety. If you eat primarily cooked veggies, it’s even more important to slowly introduce raw back into your diet. Some fruits and veggies (such as asparagus and tomatoes) are excellent cooked, the vitamin C in the peppers featured here actually breaks down once they’re cooked heated over 375 degrees. In the spring and summer while the weather is heating up, it is also great to include raw foods into the diet as they will cool down the body and keep you more hydrated.

As mentioned, peppers are high in vitamin C. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges! Vitamin C is crucial for keeping the immune system healthy, the heart healthy and is excellent for beautiful skin. Spinach is extremely high in calcium, vitamin K, folate, the list goes on and on! Spinach contains dietary fibre that is going to keep your blood sugar regular and hunger in control. Carrots contain beta-carotene an antioxidant and vitamin A. Beta-carotene is essential for optimal eye health and will also give you beautiful skin! Avocado is chock-full of hearth healthy fats, that will keep your skin, hair and nails healthy, beautiful and strong! Seaweed, our final super veggie, is not only delicious but fantastic for your health! Seaweed helps purify the blood, is highly anti-oxidizing and detoxifying, contains more bone-building calcium than milk and on top of all this, seaweed (not surprisingly) alkalizes the body!

Summer Rolls: Raw Veggies

Summer Rolls: Raw Veggies

Now that you know why I like to include these veggies you may want to make similar rolls or choose favourite veggies of you own! All you need to make delicious summer rolls are the veggies of your choosing and rice paper. Rice paper can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores (if not, at health food stores). I found mine in the aisle that also contains Asian condiments which will be helpful to know for the Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Summer Rolls: Rice Paper

Summer Rolls: Rice Paper

To make Summer Rolls you will need; rice paper, veggies and a large bowl of warm water (to soak the rice paper for rolling). That’s it!

1. Cut all your veggies into matchstick pieces.

2. Put one sheet of rice paper into the warm water (read instructions on package for how long rice paper should be immersed). Remove rice paper.

3. Arrange veggies into the centre of the rice paper.

4. Neatly roll veggies into paper (as you would a burrito or wrap).

You’re done!

Summer Rolls: Rolling the Veggies

Summer Rolls: Rolling the Veggies

If I could give a couple hints, they would be to arrange your leafy greens before your peppers and carrots and to not over-stuff your rolls. The more veggies you have loaded up on your rice paper, the harder it’s going to be to neatly keep the rolls together!

Next, let’s learn how to make our Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Spicy Peanut Sauce: Ingredients

Spicy Peanut Sauce: Ingredients

Remember that I mentioned the rice paper was found with the Asian condiments? You may want to add these to your grocery list as well if you don’t already have them in your cupboard!

– 1tbsp 100% Pure Sesame Oil

– 1tbsp Rice Vinegar

– 1tbsp Reduced-Sodium Tamari (or Soy Sauce)

– 1tsp Sriracha (or other highly spicy hot sauce)

– 2tbsp 100% Peanuts Peanut Butter

All you need to do is add all these ingredients to a small bowl and whisk together. You can add more peanut butter to get a thicker consistency (which is what I like to do) or start with 1tbsp peanut butter and slowly add if you prefer a more watery consistency!

Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Now all you have to do is enjoy! Let me know how you like to prepare your Summer Rolls! Do you have any favourite recipes for spring and summer? Let me know!

Namaste.

Quick Healthy Tip: Soak Your Food

For proper digestion (and easier blending) always remember to soak your nuts before consuming them. Nuts have a high number of enzyme inhibitors making them difficult to digest. Enzyme inhibitors are what allow nuts to remain in your cupboard for months without becoming spoiled, not exactly something you want in your digestive tract. When you soak nuts before eating them, the enzymes become neutralized making them much easier on digestion. Soaking your nuts (or seeds or grains) before eating them will also make their proteins readily available as well as important nutrients and vitamins.

Soaking nuts is extremely simple, you take purified or distilled water, pour it over the nuts (about 2:1 ratio water to nuts) and allow to soak for a few hours to overnight. Cover your class container with cheesecloth and keep at room temperature until you’re ready to use them. Obviously the harder or larger the nut, the longer it will take to soak. Small grains and seeds will take much less time. Once you’re ready to use the nuts, rinse them to assure they are clean and you’re ready to go! You can always buy a dehydrator (unless you have one already) if you want to eat the nuts nice and crispy, instead of blending them.

Another great thing to soak are dates! Many healthy smoothies use dates as sweetener in delicious desserts. I enjoy blending dates with banana, 100% cocoa powder, peanut butter and soaked almonds with water for a delicious dessert smoothie. Without soaking the dates beforehand, they rarely blend unless you have a strong high-speed blender, leaving large date chunks behind.

Himalayan Salt Lamps: Purifying the Air You Breathe

Nowadays we are surrounded by screens. Our phones are no longer just phones, they’re lifelines with games, photos and apps. We wake up and watch the news. We read articles on our computers or iPads. These screens and other electronics are essential to our everyday lives, but do we stop to think how they affect the quality of our air?

Computers, phones, televisions, microwaves, even vacuums (!!) are devices that emit positive ions when in use. Thinking back to high school chemistry, we know that positive ions (or cations) occur when electrically charged atoms lose an electron. In our environment, positive ions pose a danger because they can cause feelings of excess stress, nervousness, problems sleeping and concentrating as well as free radical damage (an excess of free radicals can lead to diseases such as cancer). Airborne moulds, infections, allergens and bacterias are known to carry a positive charge!

We know that this cannot be good for our bodies, so how do we prevent positive ions from flooding our space? Himalayan salt lamps!

Himalayan Salt Lamp - omshantilife.wordpress.com

Himalayan salt lamps are lamps made from large pieces of himalayan salt! Yes, the same pinkish salt that you may use at the dinner table! Himalayan salt is mined in Pakistan and these large pieces are slightly hollowed out (to allow for a bulb) and used for their incredible healing powers! We know that positive ions are bad for us, so it shouldn’t be surprising then that negative ions are good! Negative ions occur naturally in waterfalls, ocean waves, sunlight, lightning and even wind. Have you ever noticed the feeling of utter calm serenity during a warm summer breeze or on a day at the beach? That would be those negative ions at play.

Himalayan salt lamps are negative ion generators (this is why you want to assure that you have a pure Himalayan salt lamp instead of a cheap imposter), they work to cleanse the air by emitting negative ions that bond to positive ones, effectively neutralizing the air. Salt naturally attracts water to it’s surface (that’s why salt lamps can appear almost wet in moist environments), the light warms the water enough to evaporate off of the salt and this evaporation process is when the production of negative ions occurs.

Himalayan salt lamps are great to have all over your home and office, anywhere you have lots of electronics muddying your air. I like to keep mine by my work space and choose to keep it on all day to maximize the benefits. Another great place to keep a salt lamp is in a bedroom or child’s play room. The great thing about Himalayan salt lamps is their relatively low cost. You can also find Himalayan salt candle holders, which provide the same benefits, with the addition of gentle candlelight. Himalayan salt lamps promote a healthy immune system, improved health and wellness and feelings of calm and renewal. Not only that, but they look like little sculptures! Why not fill your home with them?

Himalayan Salt Lamp - omshantilife.wordpress.com

Do you use Himalayan Salt Lamps? Do you enjoy and feel their feelings of renewal and overall wellness?

Namaste.

Quick Healthy Tip: Morning Meditation

I’ve already talked about one of my favourite Quick Healthy Tips; Morning Yoga! If you have started a morning yoga practice, perhaps it is time to add a regular morning meditation to your daily routine!

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You may know that meditation is incredible for the body; physical, mental and spiritual. Regularly meditating encourages a healthy lifestyle, increases self-awareness, improves sense of self and confidence, lowers high blood pressure, reduces anxiety and increases overall happiness, among countless other benefits. One might think that because of all these incredible health benefits, a regular meditation practice would be difficult to start but it isn’t! I began my meditation practice by carving out the time in my mornings, before the activity of the day could sweep me off my feet and distract me! 5 minutes is all you need! You may think that it will be difficult to meditate and simply do nothing but focus on your breath for 5 minutes will be boring or challenging and that’s why I suggest starting for such a short period of time. Eventually you will be able to work up to 10, 20 maybe even 30 minutes of uninterrupted meditation, but that’s certainly a daunting place to begin! You will find that once you’ve begun practicing daily, you’re 5 minutes of meditation will fly by! You will begin craving that time just for yourself and will find yourself adding a couple more minutes to your meditative practice here and there.

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I added meditation to my morning routine in an effort to make every day start on a positive note. That is why I complete my meditation after at least 10 minutes of morning yoga, and bookend my meditation with a warm mug of lemon water and Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie. I stumbled upon this book after a yoga class, when the instructor read one of Beattie’s daily meditations to close the class. The words were so inspiring and relevant that I immediately ordered the book to include in my morning routine. I include this book in my Quick Healthy Tip because you can use these daily meditations or mantras as something to focus on while you are meditating if you prefer to chant than to focus on your breath. I also strongly believe that starting your day with inspiring words, introspection and physical movement will help you wake up every day on the right side of the bed feeling beautiful, creative and radiant. Your light will shine outwards and warm everyone around you!

Do you take the time to meditate in the morning? Do you have a favourite morning routine that gets you energized and excited for the day ahead?

Namaste.

(Note: I purchased Journey to the Heart with my own money. All thoughts and opinions are my own, I was not asked to or paid to mention this wonderful book!)

Quick Healthy Tip: What are you Grateful for Today?

One of the favourite changes I have made in my life this past year is ending my day by listing what I was grateful for that day and I would definitely coax you to do the same! Grab a journal and end your day by writing down and taking into account anything and everything that made you feel grateful, happy or warm and fuzzy inside that day! These Gratefulness Journals are great if you do not have a daily diary because instead of writing paragraphs about your day, you just jot ideas! I personally like to write grateful “lists”. Your list may have more on it one day than on another and that is okay! One day may be filled with big moments (I ran a 5k! I conquered an advanced yoga pose! I baked a pie all by myself!) or filled with small moments (I had a nice cup of tea! I talked to my Mom! I read my book!) and all of these moments are valid and important.

Gratefulness Journal - www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

Gratefulness Journal – http://www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

I use a pink “Princess” journal because I associate happy memories with it (my Grandpa called Princess when I was a young girl) so I encourage you to choose a journal that makes you feel happy and excited to open! Maybe decorate your journal with favourite pictures from a magazine or pictures from your life that you enjoy and inspire you to open your journal and think about the little things that make you happy every single day!

Since ending my day in this positive way, I have seen numerous changes to my life and general outlook. I have found that even on the seemingly “worst” days there is always something that I can feel grateful for, sometimes there are even several things! I have learned to appreciate the little things, to savour each moment and understand that even if there are storm clouds eventually the sun will come out (even if it’s just for a moment!)

Do you keep a Gratefulness Journal? Have I inspired you to end your day on a positive note? Let me know in the comments below! I’m grateful for this blog and all of you lovely readers!

Namaste.

Yoga@Home: Yoga by Candace

Do you ever have those busy (or let’s be honest… lazy) days where you just can’t make it to your yoga studio for your regular class? I’ve had a hard time this week scheduling in my classes so I started doing something that I used to do all the time; yoga flow YouTube videos at home. Full disclosure: before I started a regular studio practice, I practiced at home with the help of these videos several times a week, they are incredible! I have had multiple friends ask me which online teachers I liked because I moved from never having done yoga, to beginner, to intermediate and then playing with advanced poses all through YouTube videos! Because of this, I thought it may be fun to begin a new series called “Yoga@Home” where I could introduce you to all my favourite online yogis!

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Yoga by Candace – Screen-grabbed from: 50 Minute Power Yoga Class for Upper Body and Arm Balances (http://youtu.be/ad6NwWNjLGg)

Today’s channel is the amazing Yoga by Candace. The Yoga by Candace YouTube Channel is full of incredible and fun routines! Candace is one of my favourites lately because her routines tend to be fast paced and challenging! Her YouTube playlists are extremely well set up as she separates her routines not only by length (depending how much time you have), but also by body part, time of day or type of yoga you are interested in practicing. Because of this it’s extremely easy to find something no matter what you are looking for! Candace is a great teacher because she thoroughly explains poses so that you don’t feel confused or risk the chance of injuring yourself. Candace reminds you to “move within a pain free range” and always encourages you to remember that every day is different, to find your healthy edge and not get discouraged if you find yourself struggling one day more than another! Her flow sequences are super creative and different, meaning you don’t feel like you are going through the motions of the same class over and over. Candace provides thoughtful and interesting routines that will revitalize your home practice regardless of your yoga “level”.

Do you practice yoga at home? Are you looking forward to the Yoga@Home series? Let me know how you enjoy Yoga by Candace!

Namaste.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

We are still in the beginning of the New Year, therefore people are still working on their resolutions. Today, I have the perfect simple addition that you can make to your daily morning routine that will bring you loads of health benefits!

When life gives you lemons make… lemon water!

You may drink lemon water already just to jazz up the taste of plain old tap water, but here is why you should heat that water up a bit, drink it in the am (before you eat or drink anything else) and revel in it’s numerous health benefits (psst! there are more than just good hydration!)

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I start my day with a warm cup of lemon water, and you should too! First thing in the morning, I put on my kettle and wait for it to boil while doing my morning yoga routine (just 10-15 minutes) and morning meditation. By the time I’ve completed my other tasks, the water has boiled and I can pour it into a mug with the juice of half (or full – depending on the size) of a fresh lemon! You want your water to be warm – not hot – so I often pop in a few ice cubes to cool it down before taking my first juicy sips!

You may be thinking to yourself, “Great Kait, lemon water but there no chance that I will give up my morning coffee!” Before you dismiss it, take a look at all the ways warm lemon water first thing in the morning will help out your body and your mind!

Warm lemon water first thing in the morning will help cleanse your system. You’ve been in bed for 7-9 hours, and have not been eating or drinking, lemon water will keep your urinary tract healthy by increasing your rate of urination, preventing UTIs and allowing you to eliminate whatever has been building up overnight, keeping you regular. Not only will the lemon water hydrate you, but it will also hydrate your lymph system by replacing lymph fluid lost by the body throughout the day. Lemon water will also stimulate liver function, encouraging it to produce bile which will aid in your digestion once you start eating breakfast. The citric acid found in lemons maximizes enzyme function which aids in cleansing your post-sleeping system. Lemon water effectively flushes toxins from the body, improving any indigestion.

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Your daily morning mug of lemon water will boost your immune system! Lemons (an anti-inflammatory) are high in vitamin C, a vitamin well known to fight pesky colds (especially important in winter!) Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) also promotes healing, drinking your lemon water can even help heal any cuts or wounds you may have! Cool, isn’t it? Also high in potassium, your daily lemon water will also stimulate your brain and nerve function and help you regulate your blood sugar levels. Lemon water will work to strengthen not only your bones, cartilage and connective tissue, but also keep the eyes and brain healthy! Lemon water will remove any build up of uric acid in the joints, relieving any pain or inflammation from the sensitive areas. Had a tough workout the day before? Your warm water will help replenish all the salts lost during your workout and will ease the muscular aches and pains that follow from all your hard work!

Troubled skin? Lemon water can help with that too! No matter what your skincare issue, lemon water is a skin saver! Because lemon water is an antioxidant, it will work hard to combat any free radical damage that might show on your face or other areas. This means, any fine lines or wrinkles will be decreased, along with blemishes or dry spots! Lemon water is also antibacterial and will kill bacteria known to cause acne, leaving your skin fresh and glowing!

Though one may think they are acidic, once they are metabolized, lemons are super alkalizing! What does that mean? Diseases are known to thrive under an acidic environment. Your body’s pH becomes out of whack (and very acidic) after eating lots of unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol, etc. Because lemon water is so alkalizing, it brings your body back into a healthy pH. You can receive these benefits after a night of drinking (I definitely go back for more lemon water after a long night) or you can regularly drink your lemon water and it will constantly work remove that acidity from your body!

Finally, why do you want to start your day with warm lemon water? While lemon water is great to sip throughout the day (especially if you find the taste of plain water bland), drinking it warm first thing in the morning can replace coffee and caffeine from your morning routine! Think about it, if you are exercising regularly and sleeping enough hours that your body is well rested, you really do not need caffeine in the morning, it may just be an addiction! Drinking a warm mug of lemon water will give the body the same cozy feeling as wrapping your hands around a large mug of coffee! Lemon’s scent is known to energize the body, wake up the mind and lift one’s mood! Once digested, lemon water can actually provide energy to the body! It’s true! Not only that, but lemon can reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and dread which will help start your day on the right path! If you are so looking forward to your day that you forget to brush your teeth before running out the door, don’t worry! That lemon water will not only freshen your breath, but also lessen any tooth pain and prevent gingivitis! However, do not brush your teeth immediately after drinking lemon water, the acidity can hurt tooth enamel. Instead, wait until after eating breakfast, or drink and swish a large glass of water around your mouth before brushing!

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It’s obvious now that you should be starting your day with a big warm glass of lemon water! Make it a habit! Starting your day on a healthy note will help you make smart choices throughout the day! Cut out the coffee and enjoy your fresh skin, quick mind and uplifted mood!

Do you start your day with a warm glass of lemon water? Have I inspired you to kick the caffeine?

Namaste.

(Note: I’m not sponsored by lemons… they’re just awesome 😉 )

Meditation Proclamation!

When my yoga practice became a daily one and restorative yoga became such an important part of my practice, it was only natural for the next step in my routine to be a daily meditation. From the rhythmic breathing through asanas in flow classes to the five minute savasana, yoga and meditation go hand in hand.

I began my daily meditation with the coming of the New Year. Though I practice restorative yoga at least twice a week, I never thought to slow down and meditate… I just didn’t think that I would be able to do it as my mind travels a mile a minute. However, with meditation becoming a booming presence throughout the world and the health benefits showing up in magazines, on television and obviously in the yoga studio, I felt that it was time for me to get into the swing of things.

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As it turns out, meditation isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, I just needed to find my way of meditating. There are numerous different ways of beginning a meditative practice; mindfulness, repeating mantras, focusing on the breath, practicing a body scan or guiding the mind through imagery. Mindfulness is the focus of the mind on the present. Instead of worrying about the past or fretting for the future, you pay attention to the now. Repeating mantras can be done with mala beads (Buddhist/Hindu prayer beads with 108 beads, used to count the number of times the mantra has been repeated) or simply to oneself. Mantras can be whatever you need for the day, you can say “I am strong”, “I am focused” or “I am light” or you can simply chant (“Om/Aum”, or another mantra of your choosing). Focusing on the breath is just as it sounds, you pay attention to the breath entering and leaving the body. Body scans and guided imagery can both be practiced by following a recording (there are many apps, albums and YouTube videos available to help guide you through these meditations) or you can practice by oneself. I practice body scan meditation in a guided restorative class on Saturday mornings, but most of the time I have found that breath focus and mindfulness are the meditative practices that work the best for me! You can test out all these different types of meditation to discover which one(s) work the best for your practice!

The key to beginning a daily meditation is to start small. My personal goal is to be meditating for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes before bed, however that is definitely not where I am starting. I began my meditation with 5 minutes in the morning. That’s it! You can do it too! Afterwards, we build from there. After practicing daily for 5 minutes in the morning, I will work to 5 minutes at night, then to 6 minutes each, 7 minutes… Adding a minute every other week until I have worked up to my goal! It is so simple and not threatening if you break your goal into baby steps!

Another thing to remember when starting a meditative practice is that the mind will wander. While the “goal” of meditation is to be free of thought, do not worry if the mind floats from thought to thought, gently guide it back to the practice that you have chosen and you are succeeding at meditating!

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Once you have decided to bring meditation into your life, it is time to set up your meditative space! As you can see mine is quite simple, a couch cushion on my yoga mat after my morning yoga practice. You do not need anything fancy, though if you feel that you would like something a bit more special, there are numerous websites to purchase beautiful meditation cushions online! Once you have found a quiet place to meditate, you want to sit as comfortably as possible. You can sit on the ground, in a chair, wherever you feel that you will be able to sit calmly for your designated amount of time (it helps to keep a timer so that you are not constantly opening your eyes to check the clock). I choose to sit on the floor in half lotus position with my hands upright on my knees if I need help receiving energy, facing down if I need grounding or upright in a mudra (Buddhist/Hindu ritual gesture of the hands and fingers, common in meditation) if I need something a little bit more that day! Once you are comfortable, sit up straight, gently close your eyes or soften your gaze, unclench your jaw, peel your tongue from the roof of your mouth and focus on your chosen type of meditation. Breathe in and breathe out. Great! You’re meditating!

There are numerous benefits to meditating that range from physical to mental to spiritual to all around lifestyle! Physically, meditation improves heart health (by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease) and benefits immune health. Meditation also works as an anti-inflammatory which in turn decreases tension pain, providing relief for such problems as insomnia, muscle pain and even headaches! A regular meditation practice can soothe chronic problems such as allergies and even asthma by improving air flow into the lungs! By improving blood flow throughout the body and systematically slowing the heart rate and relaxing the nervous system, meditation causes the body to go into further levels of physical (and mental) relaxation, meaning less energy wasted while moving about your day! Less energy wasted means more strength, energy and improved performance in your day-to-day and even your yoga practice! Finally, meditation aids the body physically by coordinating the endocrine system (responsible for hormone control), balancing weight and slowing the aging process!

Though meditation can do a lot for us physically, the mental benefits to meditation are even more fantastic! A continual meditation practice will work wonders against stress! Stress is a monster to the body and mind and meditation both removes stress from the system and prevents it from re-entering. There is a decrease in overall anxiety (including a restless mind and constant worry) when practicing meditation regularly, as meditation lowers levels of blood lactate! Meditation also improves concentration, mental clarity, emotional stability, creativity and overall happiness and sense of well being! Meditation will also help you develop will power (some have used mindful meditation as a way to kick a cigarette addiction!), strengthen your intuition, memory (by fortifying the communication pathways between brain hemispheres), focus, listening skills and even empathy! Meditation can also lessen the need for sleep! Though I strongly believe in the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night, meditation can help you function if you tend to oversleep and has even been shown to help cure insomnia!

Overall, meditation is definitely something phenomenal! There are many improvements that you won’t necessarily be able to “see” but there are so many changes that will be made to your everyday lifestyle! Meditation will help encourage you to make other healthy choices in your life! Meditation will improve your base levels of happiness, increase your self-awareness, tolerance and maturity! You will have a much easier time keeping things in perspective (no more frustrated anger when something doesn’t go your way!). Meditation will help you look inwards, you will feel a sense of one-ness, an understanding of yourself that you perhaps didn’t have before you started a daily meditative practice! You will also have a higher understanding of those around you, you will feel a change in attitude, perhaps a feeling of being enlightened! Meditation unites all parts of oneself, the body, the mind and the spirit just as yoga and moving in the asanas does!

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As you can see, the benefits to developing a daily meditation practice are many and guess what? There are absolutely no side effects! Meditation is free, you need no fancy equipment or things, you just need yourself! There is no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate, there is only your way!

I have fallen in love with meditation as it naturally goes hand-in-hand with my yoga practice. Together, these practices have benefitted my life in a way that I could not explain in one post. I enjoy meditating because it allows me to be mindful in the everyday. When I find myself anxious for the future, or upset about the past I remember to live in the moment. That those moments have either happened, or won’t and that happiness is in the here and now! Yoga and meditation have helped me see my purpose, they have helped me feel a harmony in my life and have greatly improved my self confidence and sense of self!

I greatly encourage you to try meditating if you have not already! You will not regret it!

Namaste.

Welcoming the New Year!

The turning into a new year is always a time for reflection. Looking back on the year that has passed and gazing forward to what may come. While in yoga, meditation and life it is important to remain in the moment, the new year is a good time to set goals and review what you could improve from the year before.

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I had a really great 2014! My partner and I have been living together for over 3 years, our cats are healthy and we are happy! I found out my passions in life, yoga and living holistically and took the steps to make these passions my careers! I began this blog, applied (and got accepted) to a 200hr yoga teacher training program, made new friends, achieved huge yoga goals I never thought were possible and became happier and happier with each passing day!

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If you have never set new year’s goals, this just may be the year to start! Goals are not necessarily the same as resolutions, you aren’t aiming to change anything about yourself, rather you are pushing yourself to achieve something new! I think one thing that is very important while setting goals is to pay attention to what is achievable and what is not, you do not want to disappoint yourself or get down on yourself if you cannot accomplish something that is too “lofty”. You can also break down goals into smaller mini-goals. There is no elevator to the top, only stairs!

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If you do choose to make resolutions, don’t worry about making them life-changing, work towards making them life-improving. For 2014, my resolutions was to wear sunscreen every day! This year’s resolution is to meditate for 5 minutes every day. Eventually, I’d like to be able to meditate for 20 minutes, but this is a good example of breaking down goals into mini-goals.

Remember that resolutions, goals and reflection don’t just have to happen once a year. You can make positive changes whenever you see that they are necessary!

With that being said, some great things that you can do to improve your 2015 are to drink warm lemon water every morning, write down in a journal a few things every day that you are grateful for (try to think of things big and small, find the beauty in the day to day), try and practice yoga every morning for at least 10 mins, practice mindfulness and make healthy food choices (always leave a little room for a splurge… see my belated birthday dinner below).

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I will be bringing you posts all about healthy goals and improvements for the new year in January and have many posts ready for the new year! However, I’d like to know what you would like to see on this blog. Do you have any suggestions? Any idea for posts? How was your 2014? Are you looking forward to 2015? Or have any goals/resolutions? I cannot wait to hear from you and hope that your 2015 will be spectacular!

Namaste.